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Power Day 2021: Celebrating the LA Regional Energy Innovation Ecosystem

Last Month, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) hosted its Third LACI Power Day, which brings together stakeholders in the California clean energy ecosystem to celebrate innovation accomplishments that have resulted from bold policy commitments. 

Opening Remarks 

The event opened with a welcome from LACI’s President and CEO, Matt Petersen who acknowledged the continued devastating wildfires and heat waves and applauded the accelerated clean electric grid by 2035 commitment that the LA City Council

Meg Arnold, SVP of Market Transformation at LACI, then joined the stage to highlight LACI’s accomplishment over the past 5 years as LA’s Regional Energy Innovation Cluster and its programing extension over the next 5 years granted by the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investments Charge (EPIC) Program

Power Talk Panel: Pilots Success

In the first panel session of that day, LACI gathered companies from last year’s pilot pitch showcase – TBM Designs, Maxwell Vehicles, and SEED –  to discuss how their pilot projects are making a positive impact on LA communities and the clean energy transition. The Panel was moderated by Kate Schox, Founding Partner of TrucksVC, who invested in one of LACI’s companies as a result of the 2020 Power Day event. 

Incubation Pilot Pitches 

As part of LACI’s Incubation Program, LACI offers up to $20,000 in financial support to advance startup development. LACI’s Incubation Cohort 2 program showcased their proposed pilots that will soon launch. We look forward to showcasing some of their successful projects in 2022.  Startups included: ChargeNet Stations, Chargeway, ElectricFish Energy, HIVE, GreenTek Packaging, IQHi Inc., PLUS, Rent-a-Romper, Sensagrate, Verity Packaging.

Power Talk Panels

The second part of the event, LACI hosted two panels focused on industry challenges. The “Building Electrification” Panel focused on the momentum we have seen accelerate towards building electrification with an emphasis on an equitable transition. The panel was moderated by Kyle Cherrick, the VP of Business Development at Electrum who steered the conversation among Vida Asiegbu, Principal at Energy Impact Partners; Srinidhi Sampath, Sustainable Housing Policy and Program Manager at the California Housing Partnership; and Kevin Clark, Region Sales Manager of Utility and New Construction for Rheem Manufacturing Company

The “Lessons Learned from 2021 Summer Grid Conditions” Panel was led by Simran Suri, Investor at Equal Ventures who navigated the panels through a reflection on what this summer has taught us and how we can continue to collaborate to ensure the health and safety of our communities as we transition to a zero-carbon grid. The panel brought together Lauren Faber O’Connor, Chief Sustainability Officer of the City of LA; Michael Backstrom, VP of Regulatory Policy for SCE; JP Harper, Global Leader of Itrons Distributed Energy Management; and John Westerman, Director of Microgrid Project Development at Schneider Electric

Keynote Speaker Address 

After the panels, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot provided a keynote speech. The Secretary discussed the impact California’s economy and government have had on the state’s clean technology growth and how California continues to catalyze clean energy innovation in the nation.

 

 

Innovators Lightning Pitch Showcase

In the early afternoon, we showcased LACI startup companies in our Innovator’s program through a quick pitch showcase. The Innovators Program is a free, one-year program sponsored by the California Energy Commission that enables LACI to support cleantech entrepreneurs with commercialization support services in LA, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The startups featured were Biozen Batteries, MeterLeader, Rhoman Aerospace, Rivieh, The Hurd Co., and Veloce Energy

Remarks from California CCA Executive Director

In the last part of the day, California Community Choice Association (CalCCA) Executive Director Beth Vaughn provided remarks on how CalCCA will support the state’s energy goals and strengthen local resilience. Beth closed by giving praise to the strides cleantech entrepreneurs have made and the hope they and LACI continue to give her as we work together to support a sustainable future. 

Moving forward

Recently LACI welcomed 10 startups into its 3rd Incubation Cohort and 13 startups into its 6th Innovators Cohort that will have the opportunity to participate in next year’s Power Day and other events LACI hosts in the Clean Energy Innovation Ecosystem. We look forward to next year’s Power Day as we continue to collaborate with the ecosystem to achieve an inclusive green economy.

To learn more about LACI’s Pilots Programs email Pilots@LACI.org. For more information on the startups featured in this event or how to invest in a LACI Startup email investments@LACI.org.

 

LACI startup ChargeNet Stations to install EV chargers at San Francisco Taco Bell

A company that runs 216 Taco Bell restaurants is installing an electric-vehicle charging station at one of its San Francisco locations, and could install more across the US. The chargers are managed by software from ChargeNet and built by Tritium, and they’re being installed in the restaurant’s parking lot.

LACI Startup Chargeway selected by NADA to get car dealers educated so they can help shoppers buy EVs

Today, the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) announced it has chosen Chargeway to help its member dealerships explain EV charging, showing how shoppers can travel in electric vehicles by using charging stations along their routes. NADA and Chargeway previewed the news exclusively for Car and Driver.

LACI startup Chargeway selected by National Auto Dealers Association to simplify EV sales for dealers

  • By partnering with Chargeway, NADA is showing genuine leadership by solving many of the problems EV dealers face with better tools and training, which will enable EV buyers to get clear, correct answers to their charging questions.
  • Because the 16,000+ NADA member dealers represent nearly all the major automotive brands, their adoption of Chargeway will create a de facto “standard dictionary” of EV charging terms. “Green” plugs, “Level 6” chargers, etc., that will make it easier for EV dealers and buyers to communicate, regardless of brand.
  • “When it comes to EVs, this is the language we’ll be using from now on.”
  • “Dealers who want to get this right will want to get Chargeway.”

Portland, OR (Oct 15, 2021) – Chargeway, the Oregon-based software startup best known for developing a simple, intuitive color-coded visual language for charging EVs with “electric fuel,” has been chosen by the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) as an Affinity Partner, allowing NADA member dealers to capitalize on Chargeway’s straightforward, universal language for explaining EV charging and give prospective EV buyers the ability to visualize how a vehicle can fit seamlessly into their lives, today.

“Almost every major automaker has announced plans to go ‘all electric’ or ‘mostly electric’ within the next decade,” explains Chargeway Founder, Matt Teske. “But auto dealers still don’t have all the tools they need to sell cars that run on electricity to buyers unfamiliar with thinking of electricity as a fuel. That’s why we’ve focused our efforts at Chargeway towards developing tools to not only educate the auto dealers themselves, but to help them inspire ‘Range Confidence’ in their customers and, ultimately, sell more vehicles. In that way, our interests are totally aligned with the NADA and its members.”

“America’s franchised auto dealers are all-in on EVs. In fact, dealers are essential to widespread EV adoption, particularly among mass-market buyers,” says Mike Stanton, NADA President and CEO. “Closing the consumer education gap between early EV adopters and the next generation of mainstream EV buyers is critical to achieving our shared goal of getting millions more EVs on the road. We looked at a number of different training tools and consumer apps and found that Chargeway best answered the questions that our dealers were asking about EV charging, such as how long it takes, how home charging works, what incentives are available, and even how temperature and speed can affect an EV road trip. Chargeway pulls all that information in one place, so dealers using Chargeway will have a fantastic tool to properly educate those consumers who are ready to make the switch to electric.”

The first of Chargeway’s dealer-focused tools was the Chargeway Showroom Beacon – a six-foot tall, interactive touchscreen kiosk that launched as part of a pilot program in Portland, Oregon. Together with the Oregon Auto Dealers Association (OADA), Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power, Chargeway placed seven Chargeway Showroom Beacons in key auto dealerships throughout Oregon in order to prove out the concept. The results were impressive: fourteen months later, EV sales in dealerships with a Chargeway beacon had increased by 200 to 1000% compared to comparable Portland area dealers with similar inventories of EVs but no Beacon.

“The pilot showed us what we already knew, intuitively: that EV customers were more than happy to buy their vehicles from their local dealers, as long as those dealers could confidently and correctly answer their questions,” explains Teske. “You could say the same thing about a pickup truck buyer who has questions about towing. They don’t want guessing or generalization, just straightforward, correct answers tailored to their specific needs. Chargeway is the tool that provides those answers for EVs.”

That initial pilot program showed that the Showroom Beacon was a great tool for salespeople to answer questions about EVs in the physical dealership, but it was the company’s Web Beacon that attracted the attention of the NADA.

“Giving EV shoppers a clear, up-to-date image of what the electric infrastructure looks like in their area right now in a format that’s easy to visualize is absolutely critical to instilling confidence in a customer who is purchasing his or her first EV,” Stanton added. “The prospect of having Chargeway, and its universal language for explaining how charging really works, widely available in tens of thousands of retail locations across the country should be incredibly exciting to anyone who wants to see more EVs on the road as soon as possible.”

“We update the station data every twenty-four hours,” adds Teske. “That goes along with the concept of ‘Range Confidence’, too. We’re showing people– and the dealership is showing people exactly where they can find electric fuel for their electric cars.”

The Chargeway Web Beacon plugin for dealers is available now for the most common dealership web platforms (Dealer.com, Dealer On, Dealer Inspire, DealerFire and Sincro). The Chargeway mobile app for EV drivers is currently available for download on both the App Store and Google Play for iOS and Android mobile devices, respectively.

About Chargeway

Chargeway is a communication and software tool that unites all the stakeholders in the electric vehicle industry on a common platform. Designed to improve the “electric fuel” experience using colors and numbers to identify plug options and charging speeds, Chargeway creates a simple, visual identity for electric car charging options that offers auto dealers and public utilities, as well as consumers, an easier way to visualize how electric cars can meet and exceed everyone’s transportation needs. For more information on Chargeway’s platform, visit www.chargeway.net or download the Chargeway EV driver app on iOS or Android.

About NADA

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), founded in 1917, represents more than 16,000 light-vehicle and commercial-truck dealerships with 32,500 domestic and international franchises. New vehicle franchised dealers are directly responsible for more than one million U.S. jobs.

LACI Welcomes 10 Promising Cleantech Startups for its Fall 2021 Incubation Cohort

Today, 10 clean energy, cleantech and sustainability startups joined the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s (LACI) Fall 2021 cohort of its flagship Incubation program, which helps founders scale their company and impact in Greater Los Angeles and beyond. 

From helping prevent wildfires by collecting data over utility poles in remote locations (Delphire Inc.), to diverting post-industrial, non-recyclable materials from landfills and upcycling them to create beautiful, zero-waste fashion products (Rewilder), these startups and their founders are showing up with innovation, grit, and inspiring leadership to enhance LACI’s commitment to building an inclusive green economy.

“Given the growing climate crisis – including extreme heat, drought, and fires – in California, we must accelerate an equitable transition to clean energy, zero emissions mobility, and a circular economy in Los Angeles and beyond,” said Matt Petersen, President and CEO at LACI. “That’s why we are so excited to welcome 10 new startups to LACI’s incubation program and we look forward to helping our newest cohort of founders to scale their solutions for an inclusive green economy.”

As highlighted in an October 10th Yahoo! Finance story, LACI is leading efforts to create an inclusive green economy in Los Angeles. With a focus on supporting underrepresented founders, LACI’s Fall 2021 incubation cohort includes 30 percent female founders, 60 percent underrepresented founders, and 10 percent LGBTQ+ founders. In line with LACI’s specific technical priorities for the year, 70 percent of our new startups are focused on Clean Energy, 20 percent on Circular Economy, and 10 percent on Zero Emissions Mobility.

 The companies joining the Incubation program this year are also showing great adaptability and are stepping up to the new challenges we now face. SolarFi, for instance, provides solar-powered, weather-resistant temporary private spaces, or “pods,” which have become popular among restaurants, hotels, events, and municipalities to facilitate social distancing. Led by Antonio Dixon, who is a member of the Forbes Next 1000 class of 2021, SolarFi is now exploring more opportunities to bring clean energy to urban areas.

During LACI’s two-year Incubation program, startups engage in an intensive six-month curriculum to prepare founders and teams for successful market penetration, team development, increased impact with respect to the environment and communities, financial stability with a strategy for growth, access to LACI internal funds and a strategy to access external capital. Additionally, each startup team is matched with an Executive-in-Residence (EIR) who provides support in setting a roadmap and partners with the company to track, measure, and execute on key milestones. Startups in the Fall 2021 cohort will build a network with their fellow cohort members and with the greater LACI community to enable a collaborative and supportive environment for achieving growth and contributing to the global transition to zero carbon. 

LACI’s community includes a strong network of cleantech companies that completed the Incubation program and are continuing to grow and which have collectively raised $636M. Of the Incubation startups from LACI’s rebooted cohort model, EV charging station services provider ChargerHelp! currently employs 32 people and services 20,000 charging stations across 11 states. EV charging as a service provider SparkCharge recently raised $1 million from SharkTank’s Mark Cuban. Maxwell Vehicles is working with a group of partners and startups to deploy the nation’s first-ever Zero Emission Delivery Zone with a goal of lowering emissions and decreasing traffic.

We’re thrilled to support these 10 innovative startups for the next two years:

  • Delphire: Delphire is dedicated to preventing and containing wildfires by providing actionable real-time information from remote and dangerous locations. Their sentinel system monitors power lines for maintenance issues with the goal of preventing wildfires.
  • Energos: Energos develops an end-to-end platform based on the Internet of Things (IoT) and edge AI analytics to automate the energy flow between distributed energy loads and distributed energy resources.
  • Evolectric: Evolectric’s offerings encompass vehicle and battery solutions that advance e-mobility through rapid prototyping, electrified mobility solutions, battery technologies  and standardized products.
  • Flick: Flick provides rate education signals to help reduce energy use and carbon-intensive on-peak usage during costly times of the day.
  • Humble: Humble makes and rents user-friendly electric carts, specifically designed for entertainment production sets, that can carry heavy equipment while providing clean energy unlike the usual dirty and loud diesel-fueled vehicles.
  • Joule: Joule is engaged in the creation of a new energy paradigm to create inexpensive energy while cleaning and aerating our oceans, and other suitable bodies of water by mimicking a process already occurring in nature.
  • Meterleader: MeterLeader makes saving energy in homes and buildings fun, easy, collaborative, and measurable through the development of energy-saving challenges using real-time energy data from PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric. Meterleader successfully completed LACI’s Innovators program for early-stage startups.
  • Olokun Minerals: Olokun Minerals aims to solve global clean water security by sustainably harvesting ocean minerals from desalination brine to create a renewable source of power and provide key compounds for the supply chains of the future.
  • Rewilder: Rewilder targets manufacturing industrial processes to divert ‘waste’ materials from landfill, and transform them into usable materials for consumer goods. Rewilder successfully completed LACI’s Innovators program for early-stage startups.
  • SolarFi: SolarFi promotes sustainable living by combining nature and technology to bring customers solar-powered, fully transparent enclosures equipped with all the essentials, including climate-controlled heating and cooling, charging stations, and free public WiFi. 

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TEP Partner Spotlight: SCE (Southern California Edison)

Taking bold steps to prioritize electrification for the future of its communities

Covering approximately 50,000 square miles in Southern California and providing more than 15 million people with electricity, Southern California Edison (SCE) is one of the largest regional organizations in the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) and one of the founding partners that helped create the Partnership in 2018. “When we started TEP, we knew that the electric industry had to keep pushing for more renewables and bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we also knew that to address climate change we had to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from other parts of the economy, especially the transportation sector – which in California accounts for almost 50% of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Drew Murphy, senior vice president of Strategy and Corporate Development at Edison International, the parent company of SCE.

The California Clean Fuel Reward Program is an endeavor that SCE cites as an important example of their dedication to transportation electrification. This program, which was originated by SCE and then adopted statewide, provides an additional incentive for the purchase of electric vehicles across the state at the point of sale. “Having the ability to remove some of the cost pressure of EVs at the point of sale is an important incentive for customers, so we’re proud to join the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the other utilities participating in the program,” said Michael Backstrom, vice president of Regulatory Policy for SCE. The company has also recently introduced a rebate program for those who buy and lease pre-owned EVs.

The Charge Ready Program is another example of the bold action SCE has taken to encourage transportation electrification in the region. As the largest utility-run electric passenger vehicle charging infrastructure program in the nation, Charge Ready will add about 38,000 new electric car chargers throughout SCE’s service area over the next few years. Through Charge Ready, SCE installs and maintains the supporting EV charging infrastructure while site hosts, who are nonresidential SCE customers, own, operate and maintain qualified charging stations. Charge Ready also includes options for SCE to own, operate and maintain charging stations for specific segments, as well as provides rebates for charging stations installed during the construction of new multi-family property sites.

Beyond passenger vehicles, SCE is also taking ambitious steps in goods movement. The Charge Ready Transport program will support EV charging for at least 8,490 industrial EVs across the company’s service area. For example, the program will play a vital role in supporting EV charging for 100 electric trucks via the CARB- and California Energy Commission-funded Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative. The pilot will eliminate 8,200 metric tons of harmful emissions annually through a collaboration with transportation and logistics companies NFI Industries Inc. and Schneider National, Inc. These companies recently announced that they will each put 50 heavy-duty, plug-in, battery-electric trucks into operation at their Los Angeles area locations.

In addition to programs designed to help others reach transportation electrification goals, SCE has made strides in leading by example. By 2030, every passenger car and small-to-midsize SUV in SCE’s fleet will be electric, the company announced. The electric company will also convert 30% of its medium-duty vehicles and pickup trucks, 8% of heavy-duty trucks and 60% of forklifts to electric power by that same year. “As we encourage our customers to consider fleet electrification, it is critical for our company and our industry to show leadership,” said Backstrom. “Setting goals to electrify our own fleet is one more way to show that we remain committed to making the changes necessary to clean our air and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”

As we advance the goals we set in our Zero Emission Roadmap 2.0, TEP is determined to create an equitable and sustainable transportation ecosystem in time for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles. “We want to show everyone that electrification of mobility at scale is not only doable, but doable in a way that makes things better,” Murphy added. “Being part of the TEP Leadership Group is important to us because it helps advance what the region and the state must do to be successful in reaching California’s climate action goals. As a partnership, we can leverage our thinking throughout California, nationally, and internationally, to make a difference and start accelerating innovation across the industry and region.”

– Shevonne Sua, LACI Transportation Program Assistant

The Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) is an unprecedented regional public-private collaboration to accelerate deep reductions in climate and air pollution by the time of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. All of our partners have committed to work individually and collectively to pursue policies, pilot projects, and other actions that are equity-driven, create quality jobs, grow the economy, and help the region reach the bold targets in the TEP’s Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap 2.0.

From policy to action: EV car share success in two Los Angeles under-resourced communities

Pilot frameworks for sustainable EV car sharing solutions in disadvantaged communities

Summary
The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), Pacoima Beautiful, and Envoy Technologies Inc. (“Envoy”) recently completed two pilots of electric vehicle (EV) car share services in Pacoima and San Pedro. The lessons we learned from these EV car share pilots can be used to design future community EV car sharing investments that increase transportation options, reduce local air pollution, provide alternatives to internal combustion engine vehicles, and improve access to jobs and services in frontline communities.

Background
Following the policy momentum of S.B. 1275 (De Leon) and subsequent funding authorized by the state legislature, LACI launched the Zero Emission Mobility and Community pilot program in 2019 with funding from the California Workforce Development Board. We kicked off the program with a two-sided Request for Information (RFI) – one for Zero Emission Mobility Technology Providers and one for Disadvantaged Communities, as defined by the State, with identified Transportation needs. Residents, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), City Departments, and Cities applied to host a pilot, with a diverse array of technology partners applying to provide solutions. The breadth and number of applications showed a true need and enthusiasm for innovative zero emission mobility solutions.

The electric vehicle was “comfortable, quiet, easy to handle, and helps the environment.”

– Rancho San Pedro community member

Program design and goals
A rigorous selection process based on criteria such as community partner capacity, available real estate for infrastructure, and robust needs assessment, produced four matches between technologies and communities that were transformed into the Zero Emission Mobility and Community pilots in Long Beach, Pacoima, San Pedro, and Leimert Park.

Two communities, Pacoima and San Pedro, were selected to host EV car shares provided by Envoy, a LACI company, in partnership with Pacoima Beautiful and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), respectively. Nissan North America, a TEP founding partner, provided a long range Nissan LEAF SV+ for each pilot. The EV car share pilots focused on providing easily-accessible, healthy, environmentally friendly, safe, reliable, and affordable transportation to accelerate the adoption of light duty electric vehicles while also developing a replicable, sustainable program model that tested for market transformation opportunities.

The pilots launched during the global Coronavirus pandemic, and the EV car share was approved by the City of Los Angeles as an essential service – offering alternatives to mass transit which was perceived as a health risk and became less reliable due to reduced service and shutdowns. Despite launching in the middle of the pandemic, both pilots exhibited unique successes.

“I had no car and worked full time and Envoy was more affordable than ubers/lyfts everyday.”

– Pacoima community member

As a focal point of both pilots, the project team worked collaboratively to test pricing scenarios specific to community needs. Pricing for vehicle use was set by the community partners. A portion of the rates were subsidized by the grant using a “Transportation Wallet” model – direct community incentives aimed at making the program more accessible to low-and-moderate income individuals. The Transportation Wallet was flexibly deployed to cover rate subsidies and promotional campaigns as directed by the pilot partners.

Program revenue garnered during the pilot period was another critical pilot component. Envoy established 50/50 revenue share agreements with community partners based on the full hourly market rate. As long as the Transportation Wallet could support the subsidized rate, Envoy and the community partner earned revenue at the market rate, and shared the benefits from the revenue split. This tested methods to reinvest dollars back into programs post-pilot period.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Compare and contrast
The Pacoima Electro-share pilot launched as a community-facing EV car share with two Nissan Leaf EVs, dedicated EV chargers, and dedicated parking spaces. Uniquely, this pilot tested the use of innovative off grid EV chargers. The EVs were parked a mile from Pacoima City Hall and a short two block walk from the nearest bus stop. Pacoima Beautiful, a local environmental justice organization, led the community outreach, education, and enrollment via flyer door drops, email newsletters, and social media posts. Envoy reinforced these activities through supportive marketing, education, and outreach (ME&O) activities. Due to the pandemic, the partners avoided in person events.

The HACLA Rancho San Pedro Electric Share pilot was specifically for the ~1400 residents of the Rancho San Pedro property. The EVs, also two Nissan Leafs, were parked adjacent to the Resident Advisory Council office with dedicated EV chargers and parking spaces constructed on the property. HACLA’s existing Community Coaches served as the program ambassadors, performing all outreach, education, and enrollment duties which included flyer door drops and phone calls. Envoy also fortified these efforts with dedicated ME&O.

Results
During the 12-month pilot term, we tracked quantitative membership growth and utilization (distance, time) while gathering qualitative data on users’ habits and motivations.

Some learnings of interest included:

    • Powerful leadership by the non-profit partners. Both Pacoima and San Pedro community partner teams took ownership of the pilots, which helped bolster a “train the trainer” approach specific to each community’s needs. This included direct support in native languages of the community.
    • Different usage patterns over the pilot period: Usage was impacted during peak COVID transmission periods. Rancho San Pedro bounced back quickly and hit higher overall membership numbers and utilization rates, but Pacoima’s growth was slower and directly tied to COVID restrictions – when restrictions were lifted, usage went up. This result aligns with the contrast between a public vs private program, where visibility, easy access to the EVs and program point of contact helps overcome barriers to adoption, as well as with Pacoima’s high COVID rates. Generally, the program team observed that vehicles were often used to support essential service activities (such as travel to and from grocery stores and the hospital).
    • Unexpected trip lengths: Members of both programs did not hesitate to take longer trips, despite range anxiety often being cited as another EV adoption barrier, because the new EVs were seen as more reliable than older personally owned vehicles.
    • Key value adds: In addition to the expected EV car share benefits, designated parking was a motivating factor for using the program due to local parking constraints.
    • Pricing impacts: The subsidized rate and price changing during the pilot period were a success. The Pacoima pilot tested price elasticity by raising the hourly rate incrementally by $1/hour at a time, from $2/hour up to $5/hour, over a three-month period. This represented a discount of roughly 50% from the hourly market rate. Despite price changes during this period, utilization did not decrease and membership continued to grow. This demonstrated the need for, and interest in, the EV car share even if the cost was not as deeply discounted, and the willingness by the community members to have some “skin in the game” to pay out of pocket a certain subsidized price. The Rancho San Pedro hourly rate, by contrast, remained constant throughout the pilot period.

“I use [the EV car share] because my personal car is not great for long distances or freeway. I also use it because it is convenient sometimes to not lose my parking spot at [Rancho San Pedro].”

– Rancho San Pedro community member

Post-pilot
In order to continue the EV car shares beyond the 12-month pilot term, the CBOs wanted to see their monthly revenue share exceed operating expenses. This threshold represents the point at which the program would be sustained by its utilization. The EV car share at Rancho San Pedro hit this target, but the EV car share in Pacoima did not.

Nevertheless, both EV car shares are continuing as independent programs post-pilot term. Rancho San Pedro’s operating expenses are fully covered by the monthly revenue share. Pacoima Beautiful will use the accrued pilot term revenue share to pay for the program until an additional grant can be secured. We expect that the Pacoima program will hit the break-even target within the next 6 months as steady growth continues.

Finally, the program operators will need to establish a self-sustaining Transportation Wallet to make sure that these programs can succeed in the years to come. Currently, the Transportation Wallet is filled by grant funding, but since the programs are continuing, the operators can test alternative sources of funding for the Wallet like monthly membership fees, small amenity fees charged to multi-family housing residents, tiered membership pricing based on income level, or even utility credits like those available from the Low Carbon Fuels Standard Program, which may provide additional revenue sources to help bolster program.

The lessons we have learned from the EV car share pilots can be used by community members, local governments, community-based organizations, service providers, and housing operators to inform community EV car shares that benefit the community environmentally and economically by cleaning the air and providing access to jobs. We are also encouraged by the ability of these pilots to have successfully explored potential pathways to market sustainability. We encourage more partners to explore EV car shares as part of their clean transportation and equity efforts.

This is a hidden gem solution for cleaning the air that can reduce the number of personally owned vehicles, reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, decrease the need for parking spaces and can allow for increased green space for community socializing. It has been a successful effort to take policy to action, and provided deeper insight for all stakeholders on the path to expanding market-driven EV sharing ecosystems.

Contact
If you have further questions about the Zero Emission Mobility and Community Pilots in Pacoima and San Pedro please reach out to pilots@laci.org.

TEP Partner Spotlight: Culver City

A small city growing a big plan for zero emission mobility.

Covering roughly five square miles in west Los Angeles County, with a population of nearly 40,000, Culver City was the first small city to join the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) two years ago, with then Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells stating, “Together, we can lead the way in championing climate action through zero emissions mobility.” Since then, the City has been making steady progress on multiple fronts to support the goals of TEP. 

Culver City has become one of the fastest-growing digital media hubs in Southern California as Amazon, Apple, HBO, TikTok and other firms have expanded into the area, drawn to its location and movie history. The influx has brought thousands of new jobs to the city along with the associated transit challenges. As a small city, Culver City is readily able to address all mobility functions from electric buses to dedicated bus lanes to new first/last mile connections. 

Transforming the City Fleet
“We have adopted a vehicle policy to buy electric as long as it can meet our needs and is sustainable,” says Culver City Chief Transportation Officer Rolando Cruz. “With that in mind, the Transportation Department has committed to being 100 percent electric by 2028 for all of our CityBus and CityRide vehicles, which is in alignment with our TEP goals.” This fiscal year, the City will receive its first four 40-foot battery-electric buses from New Flyer.

But it’s more than the electric buses themselves that cities must take into consideration; transit agencies are learning that planning for the infrastructure to support the buses is critical. “What we are doing differently than others is creating a Battery Electric Bus Transition Plan for our infrastructure that aligns with our transportation vehicle replacements,” says Cruz. This plan includes a service, fleet, fuel, maintenance, and facilities assessment so that the City can fully understand the total cost of ownership. 

In the coming weeks, Culver City will take final recommendations and bring the full plan to the City Council for adoption. Culver City is also making progress in securing funding for its electrification efforts, having recently been awarded a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission for the buildout of infrastructure enhancements required for full fleet electrification by 2028.

Reimagining Streets
Culver City’s leadership in transportation electrification extends to other innovative programs as well. In particular, MOVE Culver City evaluates streets in conjunction with the community to provide mobility alternatives. More specifically, the program envisions a reimagining of streets as public spaces and prioritizes moving people over cars in the design. As part of the program, the City has partnered with a local company, Sunset Vans, to create the first electric mini-bus in the country.

Beginning August 19, 2021, Culver CityBus is providing safe and reliable transportation to students in the Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD) for free with a special TAP (Transit Access Pass) card, as part of a new pilot program. Culver City students receive unlimited rides at no cost on Culver CityBus, LA Metro bus and rail, and LADOT Dash. “This exciting program is several years in the making. Free bus fares provide increased accessibility to transit for the youth of our community and will create future generations of public transportation users,” said Culver City Mayor Alex Fisch.

Whether they’re setting ambitious fleet electrification goals or creating innovative mobility alternatives, Culver City has been making impressive progress on their transportation goals in conjunction with the greater ecosystem. “Being a part of TEP has helped us look at the big picture and to take aholistic approach to tackling the mobility challenges of the City, including transportation electrification. One thing that we learned early on is that this requires interdepartmental collaboration,” says Cruz. “We have created a mobility working group that includes staff from the  Public Works and Community Development Departments. We are working together to solve mobility challenges and support each others’ efforts to help enhance quality of life within our community. We are working hard on a short-range mobility plan that will outline our plans over the next 2-3 two to three years. But ultimately our group is more able to collaborate and solve these bigger picture problems through our partnership with TEP.”

– Shevonne Sua, LACI Transportation Program Assistant

The Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP) ​​is an unprecedented regional public-private collaboration to accelerate deep reductions in climate and air pollution by the time of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. All of our partners have commited to work individually and collectively to pursue  policies, pilots, and other actions that are equity-driven, create quality jobs, grow the economy, and help the region reach the bold targets in the TEP’s Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap 2.0.

Public-Private Partnership & Environmental Justice Groups Call for Governor & Legislature to Create Authority & Statewide ZEV Leadership to Accelerate Reduction of Harmful Air & Climate Pollution

BILL WOULD HELP CALIFORNIA LEAD THE WAY IN MEETING PRESIDENT BIDEN’S GOAL OF 50% EVS SOLD NATIONWIDE BY 2030

Proposed ZEV “Czar” and ZEV Authority will use whole of government approach to forge accountability & financing tools, ensure California prioritizes investments in underserved communities of color, & create high quality jobs while meeting Governor Newsom’s goal to end the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035

LOS ANGELES — Today the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP), a public-private partnership led by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), were joined by State Senator Henry Stern and environmental justice advocates to call for the approval of legislation to accelerate transportation electrification to dramatically reduce harmful air and climate pollutants, prioritize investments and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) deployments in communities disproportionately burdened by air pollution, create good paying jobs, and grow the related ZEV innovation manufacturing economy. 

Los Angeles and California are leading the transition to zero-emission vehicles, yet experience the worst air quality in the nation. To meet TEP’s ambitious climate and air pollution targets set for Greater Los Angeles to achieve by the time of the Olympics in 2028 as well as Governor Newsom’s Executive Order to electrify transportation, it was identified that California needs an Authority & leader singularly focused on working across State government to help accelerate progress.

Senate Bill 551, introduced by Senator Stern (D-Los Angeles) at the request of the Transportation Electrification Partnership & LACI, would create the California Zero-Emission Vehicle Authority to hold accountable the dozens of state agencies involved, while working with communities, labor, and the private sector, providing strategic direction, creating new funding and financing tools to support the transition, and ensuring that equity is a top priority in all funding and programs for zero-emission transportation. The Authority would also help bring focus to needed job training and support for manufacturing, while ensuring California leads the way to meet President Biden’s 2030 goal of 50 percent of all cars sold to be electric vehicles.

“Transportation is the greatest source of harmful air and climate pollution in LA and across California, and frontline communities of color suffer a disproportionate impact,” said Matt Petersen, President & CEO of LACI. “We need a senior leader and ZEV Authority laser-focused on working across all state agencies, local communities, labor, and industry to prioritize equity, create new financing tools and high road jobs, unlock startup innovation, & accelerate progress in getting 100% zero-emissions cars, buses and trucks on the road. We thank Senator Stern for his leadership.”

“California must exercise its market-making power as a global electric vehicle goliath in both purchasing and jobs and investment in manufacturing batteries, cars, buses and trucks, and installing fast-charging infrastructure.  The clean vehicle economy and related manufacturing and infrastructure upgrades will not only restore clean air for all, it will be the biggest job creator in California for the coming decade,” said Senator Stern. “The President gets this, and Congress and the private sector are poised to invest big. The question is who will win the global race?”

“Just this week leading world scientists warned us about the need to take immediate action to reduce global warming and climate change impacts,” said Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), co-author of SB 551. “California has already led the way by adopting aggressive goals and timelines. SB 551 is another important step. It directs the state to work more efficiently by creating a platform that will encourage collaboration and more strategic planning across our state to help expedite much needed transportation infrastructure and strengthen the workforce.”

“Communities like mine in Watts suffer disproportionate and unfair impacts from California’s addiction to gas-powered cars, buses and trucks, which makes the passage of SB551 an environmental justice issue,” said Watts Clean Air & Energy Committee co-chair Jacquelyn Badejo. “All of California’s children deserve to live in healthy communities and to have a spot in the jobs of the future. A Zero-Emissions Vehicle Authority makes it clear that leadership at the highest levels of government are planning for a better future that is committed to equitable outcomes.”

“California needs clean air and good jobs,” said Vanessa Morelan, Western States Program Manager, EVNoire. “We can address both of these challenges by passing SB 551, which creates senior-level leadership to make sure that our transition to zero-emissions occurs with a comprehensive focus on spurring our local cleantech industry; provides jobs for low-income and underserved Californians; and, prepares the state for the climate challenges that lie ahead. Senate Bill 551 specifically calls for prioritizing equity in all funding and programs, economic development and enhanced workforce training, which is a pinnacle of the EVNoire vision and why we fully support this mission.”

More than 100 organizations have endorsed the bill, including local government, industry leaders, startups, environmental organizations, environmental justice groups, public health advocates, labor organizations, and academia. The bill has earned bipartisan support throughout its legislative journey to date, but it has yet to be voted upon by the full Assembly. The bill will be up for consideration by the Assembly Appropriations Committee when the Legislature reconvenes mid-month.

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Approved Statements

Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles

“Zero-emissions transportation isn’t just one of our greatest opportunities to turn the tide on the climate crisis — it’s a chance to jumpstart our economy, create good-paying jobs, and reverse inequities that have harmed our communities for generations. SB551 will ensure that the transition to zero-emissions transportation is a force for good in people’s lives, and give us the tools to continue to accelerate our path toward a more sustainable and just future.” 

City of Los Angeles – Councilmember Kevin De León, Council District 14

“My district is crisscrossed with freeways that are choking the air from our children’s lungs. California needs to be doing more to clean our air which is why I strongly support SB 551 by Senator Henry Stern to ensure the State accelerates efforts in eliminating tailpipe emissions, getting zero-emission trucks hauling in and out of the Port of LA, and making electric vehicles accessible to everyone.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn

“California is known for its car culture and for leading the world with aggressive climate policies. With SB 551, we have a chance to be known for truly implementing a climate-friendly zero-emission transportation future. The communities that I represent near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach need California to create a future that includes a focus on electrifying the freight industry. Making a clean future an executive priority is exactly the kind of bold action we need.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell

“Our children deserve to breathe clean, healthy air and SB551 is a commitment to making that future a reality. It is abundantly clear that we have no time to waste in reducing our carbon emissions and greening our transportation sector. By passing SB551, our state leaders will make it clear they understand the urgency of now and that they are ready to lead with action and equity.”

Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), SB 551 Joint Author

“California may have 50% of the nation’s zero-emissions vehicles on our roads, but the air quality in our communities makes it clear that we need to get every gas-powered car, bus and truck off the road now. California can create the nation’s first Zero-Emissions Vehicle Authority to lead the nation in building the infrastructure, jobs and innovation needed so that our families can breathe cleaner air.” 

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), SB 551 Co-author

“California has a bold vision for a zero-emissions future, and SB551 has the teeth needed to make it a reality. By establishing a senior leadership position, the creation of a Zero-Emissions Vehicle Authority gives Californians someone to hold accountable for making clean air a reality.”

Veronica Padilla, Executive Director, Pacoima Beautiful

“We know that communities like the ones I represent in northeast San Fernando Valley are hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change and pollution. That is why we are proud to stand with a coalition of clean tech, environmental justice and community leaders to say that it is time for bold leadership at the highest levels of government to make a transition to a zero-emissions future possible. By passing SB551, California will make it clear that it is ready to tackle head-on the looming challenges of climate change with a focus and investment in communities that need it the most.”

Bahram Fazeli, Director of Research & Policy, Communities for a Better Environment

“For communities who have long suffered disproportionately from the impacts of pollution from the freight industry and from being adjacent to freeways, we need a whole of government approach to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles. Making that transition will require focused leadership and collaboration from our state officials and agencies. We stand behind SB551 because we know that environmental justice and equity in the green future requires an all-hands-on-deck approach that makes sure no community is left behind.”

LACI Announces First-of-Its-Kind Debt Fund

 

Revolving Debt Fund helps startups scale, with a focus on under-resourced founders

Pilot program results validate need for early-stage cleantech debt solutions

Second funder in fund, Union Bank, marks shift beyond pilot stage

 

LACI’s mission of creating an inclusive green economy involves helping cleantech founders access the right capital to scale their startups, ultimately resulting in revenues, job creation and environmental impact. Over the past decade of incubation, LACI realized that debt needed to play a role in scaling cleantech startups much earlier than conventionally understood

Most early-stage startups rely almost exclusively on equity investment, primarily venture capital (VC). This reliance often leads to:

  • Founder dilution, with the median founder owning 15% of their company at exit. 
  • Recourse to risky and expensive alternatives. No early-stage startup is able to accurately forecast all of its expenses. As a result, many founders avail themselves of credit card debt when unexpected business opportunities arise or provide personal collateral for loans, a practice that prevents under-resourced but talented founders from scaling their ventures.
  • Lack of capital for founders of color. Over the course of five years, Crunchbase found that just 2.4% of total VC funding went to Black and Latino/Hispanic founders, despite the Black and Latino/Hispanic population equalling roughly 31% of the population. LACI founders are even more diverse, with approximately 33% of incubation program founders coming from the Black and Latino/Hispanic community.

Finding a way to prudently and cost-effectively layer in debt earlier in the process would:

  • Allow funders more choice about how much equity investment to take on, and when, plus enable founders to reduce their ownership dilution.
  • Prevent founders from taking on risky alternatives, such as personal credit card debt.
  • Allow founders of color greater access to capital to grow their startups. Although debt funders such as banks need to improve their track record in terms of lending to Black and Latino/Hispanic founders, they often fare better than their VC counterparts.

To address this problem, LACI won a grant from the Department of Energy’s Capital Access Program in 2017 to research and structure a debt fund to support LACI’s early stage cleantech founders. This research was initially shared at a Clinton Foundation economic conference in November of 2019, with private-sector lenders and public-sector officials validating the model to create a revolving debt fund focused on working capital and business expansion, with capital coming from philanthropic or program-related investment capital. LACI’s research revealed that private banks and other financial intermediaries clearly see the need and demand for such lending, but struggled to find their path to cost effectively serve the market, other than by having founders use traditional products, such as second mortgages and credit card debt.

In 2020, Wells Fargo invested the first loan capital into the LACI Debt Fund, an initial $110,000 contribution to pilot the concept of providing loans of $20k-$40k with interest rates at or below market for LACI companies who do not yet qualify for traditional loans. 

Today, LACI is pleased to exit stealth mode operations of the LACI Debt Fund by announcing that it has approved the 10th loan of the LACI Debt Fund. While the Debt Fund is modest in size, initial recipients of loans from the LACI Debt Fund have subsequently raised close to $100M in follow-on funding from both equity and debt sources, validating the crucial role that early stage debt can play as part of a comprehensive incubation experience.

 

With the number of successful loans entering the double digits, LACI has opened up the Debt Fund to other funders. Last week, Union Bank cemented its participation in the LACI Debt Fund, increasing the fund loan capital by almost 50% to $160k. The increased capital marks the end of the pilot phase and commencement of expanded operations, including being able to regularly support more LACI founders with additional loans.

Prospective startups interested in learning about the Debt Fund as part of LACI’s overall incubation services should reach out to pipeline@laci.org. Funders interested in supporting the LACI Debt Fund via philanthropic or program-related investment capital should reach out development@laci.org.